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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Irrigate peatland (before/after planting) Peatland Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • One study evaluated the effects, on peatland vegetation, of irrigating areas planted with peatland plants. The study was in a bog.
  • Cover (1 study): One replicated, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in a bog in Canada found that irrigation increased the number of Sphagnum moss shoots present 1–2 growing seasons after sowing Sphagnum fragments.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 1993–1994 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Rochefort & Bastien 1998) found that irrigating plots sown with Sphagnum-dominated vegetation fragments increased the number of Sphagnum moss shoots present. The effect was biggest after one growing season (irrigated: 250–630 shoots/m2; not irrigated: 60–310 shoots/m2) but persisted after two growing seasons (irrigated: 95–770 shoots/m2; not irrigated: 50–390 shoots/m2). Irrigation also increased the number of Sphagnum shoots in additional plots that were not sown (see intervention Irrigate peatland). In spring 1993, three pairs of plots were established on slightly drained, bare peat. Sections of each plot were sown with vegetation fragments, dominated by one of three Sphagnum moss species (250 fragments/m2). Three plots (one plot/pair) were irrigated during the summer, using sprinklers and water stored on the bog. The other plots were not irrigated. In autumn 1993 and 1994, all Sphagnum shoots were counted in forty 30 x 30 cm quadrats/plot. 

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Taylor N.G., Grillas P. & Sutherland W.J. (2019) Peatland Conservation. Pages 375-438 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.